Two weeks ago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gifted Fox host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to 41,000 hours of surveillance footage from the January 6 attack on the Capitol. And on Monday night, Carlson, who has admitted he and his Fox colleagues constantly lie to their viewers, embarked on a new attempt to not just sanitize but validate a coordinated right-wing attack on America’s Capitol.
Carlson’s main contention revolved around the idea that, because the public has not seen every single second of January 6 footage, the already released footage showing violent insurrection is somehow invalidated. “It turns out there’s quite a bit of video you haven’t seen,” Carlson said. “Taken as a whole, the video record does not support the claim that January 6 was an insurrection—in fact, it demolishes that claim.”
“The protesters were angry: They believed the election they had just voted in had been unfairly conducted, and they were right,” Carlson proselytized. “In retrospect, it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy.”
Carlson clumsily treads between calling the protesters angry and betrayed and simply admirers of American history and democracy. “They were orderly and meek. These were not insurrectionists, they were sightseers,” Carlson proposed. “Protesters queue up in neat little lines. They give each other tours outside the speaker’s office. They take cheerful selfies and they smile. They are not destroying the Capitol,” he narrated. “They obviously revere the Capitol. They’re there because the election was stolen from them. They believe in the system.”
So these people are “protesters,” but they are actually just “orderly and meek sightseers.” And they are not “insurrectionists,” but they are also “angry” in the face of a “grave betrayal.” But they also “believe in the system.”
Carlson also hosted The Washington Times’ Charlie Hurt to help peddle the lie that insurrectionists weren’t armed. Investigations and footage have already confirmed the rioters were armed with knives, Tasers, batons, brass knuckles, and even firearms like AR-15s.
Carlson got as granular in his lying as trying to claim “there is dispute over how Chansley [the QAnon Shaman] got into the Capitol building,” despite footage Carlson aired earlier clearly showing Chansley entering with the rioters who kicked the door in:
As expected, Carlson is using the footage to try diluting the reality of how violent the riot was. Perhaps it all came out of a coordinated hedge by McCarthy and Fox, in case Trump indeed returns to lead the party, a sort of, “Look, we cleaned up some of the January 6 mess for you!”–type offering. Maybe it was just a way for McCarthy to buy some favor from the network, given how hard it’s already been for him to manage his slim majorities and the varying interests within it.
Or, more straightforwardly, this is all motivated by the right wing simply not believing in facing consequences for its own actions. Consequences would imply wrongdoing, and this party, despite its proclamations, is not one to actually hold itself personally responsible for any violence it incites—whether it be on the Capitol, on trans people, or communities poisoned by train derailments. Regardless, the exclusive collab between the most powerful member of the House and the biggest media corporation in America is already making room for members of Congress to embrace the proposition: